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Concept: Old age


Two decades of research indicate causal associations between social relationships and mortality, but important questions remain as to how social relationships affect health, when effects emerge, and how long they last. Drawing on data from four nationally representative longitudinal samples of the US population, we implemented an innovative life course design to assess the prospective association of both structural and functional dimensions of social relationships (social integration, social support, and social strain) with objectively measured biomarkers of physical health (C-reactive protein, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, waist circumference, and body mass index) within each life stage, including adolescence and young, middle, and late adulthood, and compare such associations across life stages. We found that a higher degree of social integration was associated with lower risk of physiological dysregulation in a dose-response manner in both early and later life. Conversely, lack of social connections was associated with vastly elevated risk in specific life stages. For example, social isolation increased the risk of inflammation by the same magnitude as physical inactivity in adolescence, and the effect of social isolation on hypertension exceeded that of clinical risk factors such as diabetes in old age. Analyses of multiple dimensions of social relationships within multiple samples across the life course produced consistent and robust associations with health. Physiological impacts of structural and functional dimensions of social relationships emerge uniquely in adolescence and midlife and persist into old age.

Concepts: Body mass index, Epidemiology, Vector space, Obesity, Sociology, Hypertension, Old age, Blood pressure


Common mechanisms in aging and obesity are hypothesized to increase susceptibility to neurodegeneration, however, direct evidence in support of this hypothesis is lacking. We therefore performed a cross-sectional analysis of magnetic resonance image-based brain structure on a population-based cohort of healthy adults. Study participants were originally part of the Cambridge Centre for Ageing and Neuroscience (Cam-CAN) and included 527 individuals aged 20-87 years. Cortical reconstruction techniques were used to generate measures of whole-brain cerebral white-matter volume, cortical thickness, and surface area. Results indicated that cerebral white-matter volume in overweight and obese individuals was associated with a greater degree of atrophy, with maximal effects in middle-age corresponding to an estimated increase of brain age of 10 years. There were no similar body mass index-related changes in cortical parameters. This study suggests that at a population level, obesity may increase the risk of neurodegeneration.

Concepts: Old age, Ageing


Diagnostics of the human ageing process may help predict future healthcare needs or guide preventative measures for tackling diseases of older age. We take a transcriptomics approach to build the first reproducible multi-tissue RNA expression signature by gene-chip profiling tissue from sedentary normal subjects who reached 65 years of age in good health.

Concepts: Medical terms, Genetics, Ageing, Old age, Death, Senescence, Medicine, Health


This study replicates and extends the findings of previous research (Wright, H., & Jenks, R. A. (2016). Sex on the brain! Associations between sexual activity and cognitive function in older age. Age and Ageing, 45, 313-317. doi:10.1093/ageing/afv197) which found a significant association between sexual activity (SA) and cognitive function in older adults. Specifically, this study aimed to generalize these findings to a range of cognitive domains, and to assess whether increasing SA frequency is associated with increasing scores on a variety of cognitive tasks.

Concepts: Educational psychology, Association of Ideas, Old age, Thought, Psychology, Mind, Brain, Cognition


Retirement constitutes a major life transition that poses significant challenges to health, with many retirees experiencing a precipitous decline in health status following retirement. We examine the extent to which membership in social groups following retirement determines quality of life and mortality.

Concepts: Old age, Demography, Ageing, Death, Gerontology, Epidemiology, Longitudinal study, Life


Cathie Sudlow and colleagues describe the UK Biobank, a large population-based prospective study, established to allow investigation of the genetic and non-genetic determinants of the diseases of middle and old age.

Concepts: United Kingdom, Europe, Retirement, Ageing, Genetic disorder, Old age, Gerontology, Death


The Northwestern University SuperAging Program studies a rare cohort of individuals over age 80 with episodic memory ability at least as good as middle-age adults to determine what factors contribute to their elite memory performance. As psychological well-being is positively correlated with cognitive performance in older adults, the present study examined whether aspects of psychological well-being distinguish cognitive SuperAgers from their cognitively average-for-age, same-age peers.

Concepts: Episodic memory, Gerontology, Psychology, Middle age, Old age, Cognition, Cognitive psychology, Memory


BACKGROUND: normal ageing processes impact on oropharyngeal swallowing function placing older adults at risk of developing oropharyngeal dysphagia (OD). Anecdotal clinical experience has observed that older patients recovering from hip fracture surgery commonly develop OD post-operatively. OBJECTIVE: to document the presence of OD following hip fracture surgery, and the factors associated with OD. METHODS: one hundred and eighty-one patients with a mean age of 83 years (range: 65-103) admitted to a specialised orthogeriatric unit were assessed for OD post-surgery for hip fracture. Pre-admission, intra-operative and post-operative factors were examined to determine their relationship with the presence of OD. RESULTS: OD was found to be present post-operatively in 34% (n = 61) of the current population. Multivariate logistic regression analyses revealed the presence of pre-existing neurological and respiratory medical co-morbidities, presence of post-operative delirium, age and living in a residential aged care facility prior to hospital admission to be associated with the post-operative OD. CONCLUSION: these results highlight that OD is present in a large number of the older hip fracture population. Early identification of OD has important implications for the provision of timely dysphagia management that may prevent secondary complications and potentially reduce the hospital length of stay.

Concepts: Oropharyngeal dysphagia, Death, Dysphagia, Swallowing, Regression analysis, Old age, Gerontology, Ageing


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate effects of a multifactorial fall prevention program on fall incidence and physical function in community-dwelling older people. DESIGN: Multi-center randomized controlled clinical trial SETTING: Three medical centers and adjacent community health centers in Taiwan. PARTICIPANTS: Community-dwelling elderly who had fallen in the previous year or with risk of fall INTERVENTIONS: After baseline assessment, eligible subjects were randomly allocated into the intervention group (IG) or control group (CG) stratified by Physiological Profile Assessment (PPA) fall-risk level. IG received a 3-month multifactorial intervention program including 8-week exercise training, health education, home hazards evaluation/ modification, along with medication review and ophthalmology/other specialty consult. CG got health education brochures, referrals and recommendations without direct exercise intervention. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Primary outcome was fall incidence within 1-year. Secondary outcomes were PPA battery (overall fall-risk index, vision, muscular strength, reaction time, balance and proprioception), timed up-and-go (TUG), Taiwanese-International Physical Activity Questionnaire, EuroQoL-5D, Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), and Fall Efficacy Scale at 3 month after randomization. RESULTS: There were 616 participants with 76±7 years, including low risk 25.6%, moderate risk 25.6% and marked risk 48.7%. The cumulative 1-year fall incidence was 25.2% in IG and 27.6% in CG (HR=0.90, 95% CI 0.66-1.23). IG improved more favorably than CG on overall PPA fall-risk index, reaction time, postural sway with eyes open, TUG, and GDS, especially for those with marked fall-risk. CONCLUSIONS: The multifaceted fall prevention program with exercise intervention improved functional performance at 3-months for community-dwelling elders with risk of fall, but did not reduce falls over 1-year follow-up. Fall incidence might have been decreased simultaneously in both groups by heightened awareness engendered during assessments, education, referrals, and recommendations.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Physical exercise, Old age, Epidemiology, Strength training, Clinical trial, Randomness, Geriatrics


The primary purpose of this study was to compare the effects of two different exercise training programs on executive cognitive functions and functional mobility in older adults. A secondary purpose was to explore the potential mediators of training effects on executive function and functional mobility with particular reference to physical fitness gains.

Concepts: Cognition, Old age, Middle age, Exercise